Removing Moth Ball Smell from a Car

Category Odors
The odor of mothballs is very pervasive and persistent. This is a page about removing moth ball smell from a car.


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June 13, 2011

How do I get a mothball smell out of a car?

By Pam H.


June 13, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

Try putting an open dish of vanilla in the car (only when you are not driving it of course) or set a couple of pieces of charcoal in a bowl in a couple places. Both absorb odors.

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June 14, 20110 found this helpful
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Try putting a bowl of white vinegar in the car overnight (or maybe several nights). It's great at removing cigarette smoke, might remove moth ball odor. Hope it helps.

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October 22, 2010

How do I get moth ball smell out of my car?

By Kistler8919 from Kutztown, PA


June 8, 20151 found this helpful
Best Answer

I had to put mothballs in a car that had some stuff stored in it. Once we got the car repaired and I removed the items. The smell (of course) lingered on. We used odoban... an odor removing spray. You can get it at walmart in the cleaning supplies. It eliminated the odor almost instantly. Spray a couple of days a row to keep smell from "creeping" back in... Good luck!

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October 7, 2019

How do I get the moth ball smell out of my car? I've tried everything that has been suggested almost. Please help me I have to drive my granddaughter in that SUV and for her sake please help me.


It is dangerous for me and my granddaughter, but most importantly my granddaughter.


October 7, 20190 found this helpful

I love essential oils and use them in my car. Put several drops of your favorite citrus oil on a felt pad and place under the seats and near the vents. Lemon really deodorizes and it's quite popular in other products on the market. OR place charcoal in your car and leave set until you no longer experience the odor of mothballs. Also, you could try a carpet freshening powder for eliminating pet odor that has baking soda ingredient.

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October 7, 20190 found this helpful

Try a product called Nok-Out. You can get it on amazon

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October 7, 20190 found this helpful

Go on- and this product called Smelleze-it's non-toxic and odorless!

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October 8, 20190 found this helpful

There are a lot of great products to get rid of orders in a car. I would recommend using one of these Meguiar's Whole Car.


Moso Natural, Rocco & Roxie Professional, Ozium Air Sanitizer, Febreze Hawaiian, Biocide Systems Auto Shocker, or Ozium Gel.

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October 10, 20190 found this helpful

You do not say where you had the mothballs - were they put there for a reason?

I think you will need to vacuum your entire car - all floors and side panels if you have carpet panels. Be sure to do the trunk also.
You can spray your carpets with an enzyme cleaner (generally used for pet odors and sold at all big stores in the cleaning products isle) and let it dry.

Purchase a cleaner recommended for cleaning your dash and other parts of the car. Auto stores are the best place to find this and you may even ask about a cleaner for your carpets.


You will need to use some sort of odor reducing spray on your AC. Ask about this at the auto store as you may need to spray the intake area of your AC but someone at the auto store can help you with all of this.
They are used to people wanting all kinds of odors removed from their cars/trucks.

I believe you will have to clean every place that can be cleaned and then put a couple of containers of charcoal or cat litter in the car for several nights.
Citrus peels or coffee grounds also help remove odors as well as baking soda, so try anything you have on hand.
Remove containers in the morning and leave in sunshine until time to put them back in your car.

If this is too much for you then you can look for a good auto detailing shop and let them do this for you.

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October 26, 20190 found this helpful

Thrifty Fun (this lovely site you are on) has a whole thread for this very topic:


I can tell you from experience that time is the only way I have been successful at getting rid of that smell. When I was helping clean out an apartment of a deceased relative a few summers ago, I had no clue that she mothballs in the pocket of a coat and it sat in my car for a few days until I could get it to the goodwill. It was awful.

Drove with the windows down for a few weeks before that awful smell finally went away!

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

October 22, 2010

I can't get the moth ball smell out of my car! I have pretty much tried everything to take out the smell. I left my car outside with the windows down, the sunroof open, and the doors open for about a week straight. (I had to borrow my dad's vehicle during this time.) That did not do a single thing. I then sprayed 2 bottles of Lysol (the 99% one), a whole container of Febreze, broke a few bottles (on purpose) of perfume in the car, and still the smell was there. The other smells couldn't even be detected over the moth ball odor.


I then took several of the Sam's Club size boxes of baking soda and poured it on the floors, vacuumed it out, and repeated it 5 times. I also took a box of odor diminisher and did the same with that. I have leather seats in my car so I thoroughly cleaned the seats, the windows and the console. I have taken a whole box of fabric softener sheets and spread them throughout the car. I have air fresheners that are plugged in to the cigarette lighters, and on every single one of the air vents.

I have also taken a rug shampooing vacuum, used a pet odor shampoo in it, and shampooed my car twice from the floors to the ceilings. I have gone to several detailing shops and all have said that they don't know what to do about it. One man suggested a bottle of heavy duty stain remover, and of course that didn't work either. I have also tried coffee, lemons, and vanilla. After all of these different techniques nothing has seemed to work! With all of the different smells I have put in my car the only thing that you can smell are moth balls. What do I do?

Samantha from MI


Removing Moth Ball Smell From Car

Luckily, I haven't had to learn from experience, but I was told if you coarsely crush charcoal briquettes and hang them in a cheesecloth bag or nylon, etc., it will eventually(?) absorb the odor. Also, this might be asinine to ask, but in all your work did you go over the trunk and checked the vents as well? Maybe the continuing odor is being transferred from the vents, so try a couple of removable sachets of charcoal tucked in the vent(s). Good luck! (05/20/2008)

By doodles

Removing Moth Ball Smell From Car

Buy a couple of cans of coffee (grounds); and put them in flat dishes (to increase surface area exposed) in the car. Close up the windows and leave it for several days. I know it will get rid of lots of odors; not sure about mothballs; but it is worth a try!

(I learned this trick from my mom; but its value was confirmed by a quartermaster who spent some time stationed at Guantanamo Bay in the 80s, and used the coffee trick to de-odorize a container that had lost refrigeration, allowing the whole load of meat to begin to rot. They steamcleaned the interior, then put the coffee in and closed it up for a few days. Worked like a charm.) (05/20/2008)

By Jill

Removing Moth Ball Smell from a Car

Sounds like a mothball or two is hiding in there somewhere? Maybe enlist friends to help you "follow your noses" to find one. Have doors and windows open so you can locate it. Good luck. (05/23/2008)

By Kim Churchman

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